Labor Day Memories: Clerks

clerks3This Kevin Smith movie shows two guys working in two retail stores and I think it is the Labor Day poster child.  The main character is Dante, and he hates his job, just like everyone in America.  He has friends who he hangs out with and bug him at work.  He has a former girlfriend he loves and hates, just like everyone in America.  But the film really celebrates the working man down on his luck, but honestly, Dante is a slacker living the dream of Labor Day.

Labor Day is a great holiday.  No working.  Good food.  Beer.  Lots of friends over.  It’s great.  That’s sorta like this movie, except Dante and his friends look bored most of the time.  Or maybe they’re stoned.  Either way, they fight against whatever it is that has trapped them in this pathetic, bottom-rung paradigm, and break into their own self-imposed “Labor Day”, closing the store to play hockey.  That’s a celebration of Labor Day if I’ve ever seen one.

clerks1 The comedy is relationship based and commercial satire.  Maybe the best scene is the hockey game, which is joined by a local bystander.  The bystander flips the ball off the roof and the game is closed early.  Hilarious.  This scene is only rivaled by appearances of Jay and Silent Bob and the dead guy in the bathroom.

I think this movie works well with its short episodic stories.  The movie centers on Dante’s life, but I think Randall delivers one of the best performances in the movie.  Jeff Anderson plays Randall and he lays it out straight for Dante, twisting the movie into commentary about unmotivated career choices.

Dante is a twenty-two year old loser.  He’s lazy and unmotivated, again like most of the people in America.  He has a dutiful girlfriend, but pines over another girl named Caitlin, for some odd reason.  Dante has his priorities screwed up, and will probably still have them screwed up, even after Randall yells at him for it.  The beauty of this character is that he is very flawed and he fits the overall theme of this movie: Life is hard, then you die.  Or maybe the overall theme is that life is complicated.

clerks2The original ending to Clerks saw Dante getting shot and killed.  This ending is on the Clerks X DVD set and I’m not sure which ending I prefer.  The shooting of Dante is quite a downer of an ending and I can see why they dropped it for the theatrical cut ending.  It is just too much.  The downer ending pretty much dispels all the themes and discussions about hope and bettering yourself, painting an extremely dysmal view of life in general.

This movie discusses many broad topics, such as relationships, careers, and ethics.  The movie hides these larger things behind common problems and even more common dialogue.  The problems themselves are fairly generic, but the dialogue is really what sells this movie.

This movie is pretty decent, and I think the actors do an excellent job considering their low-budget.  It’d be one thing if it was a studio film, but that kind of glossy detail doesn’t fit the tone of Clerks.  Clerks is the common-man’s movie, complete with everyday characters and dialogue.  It is somewhat polarizing that way, but I can see the value in it.  I just don’t watch this kind of movie all the time. It has funny moments, but it also has embarrassing moments too.  I wouldn’t want to watch this movie with my girlfriend, that’s for sure, but I guess I can appreciate it as something small that tries to do something big.